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Bed of Roses

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Bed of Roses

Starring: Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson
Director: Michael Goldenberg
Rated: PG
RunTime: 88 Minutes
Release Date: January 1996
Genre: Romance

*Also starring: Pamela Segall, Josh Brolin, Brian Tarantina, Debra Monk, Ally Walker

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

BED OF ROSES is a wonderful fairy tale of a movie, at least the first two thirds of the movie is, which is the movie's major, but not quite fatal flaw. It is not that the last third of the movie is bad, it just does not exist at all! It is a movie that promises much more than it delivers, and yet it is a touching and romantic fable that lifts your heart before it makes a fast exit for reasons that baffle me. I am glad I saw it, but I wish I could have gotten to know the two lead characters much more. I really care about these two sweet souls.

Playing a character similar to the wonderful one he played in the much better movie UNTAMED HEART, Christian Slater is Lewis Farrell. Lewis is a young widower who is a flower delivery man by choice so that he can see the joy in people's eyes when he gives them their flowers. One day he delivers flowers from an anonymous giver to Lisa Walker (Mary Stuart Masterson).

Lisa is a successful but sad and young new VP at a Manhattan company. She has a mysterious and troubled childhood which has prevented her from ever falling in love. Her "boyfriend" Danny (Josh Brolin) is just that, a friend. They are intimate, but she does not care for him much; he is just a convenience. They are both workaholics who sometimes fit each other into their busy schedules.

When Lisa gets her flowers, she becomes obsessed with finding out who sent them. Although Lisa is upset by all of this, her best friend Kim (Pamela Segall) loves it and tells her, "with a fantasy like this who wants the truth?" Kim tells Lisa her opinion of her current boyfriend Danny, "He's the romantic equivalent of a night-light."

In the straightforward but poetic script by writer and director Michael Goldenberg, Lisa quickly finds out that, you guessed it, Lewis sent the flowers. He invites her to spent the day with him. The day turns out perfect which scares her. Lewis tells her not to worry since "every now and then everybody is entitled to too much perfection." Shaken, Lisa tells Kim that night that "I don't have room in my life for somebody this great. I work for a living."

Lisa's fears intensify as Lewis corners the market for roses in The Big Apple and sends them all to her apartment. He lost his first wife during pregnancy, and he lives in mortal fear that he will lose Lisa as well, hence the romantic overkill.

Just when you get thoroughly hooked on this movie, it takes a sharp turn left followed a couple of minute later by a sharp right and then a few minutes later it abruptly ends. I could not figure out if the writer ran out of ideas or what. Perhaps test screening audiences did not like the last part so the editor (Jane Kurson) just cut it entirely. For whatever reason, the producers (Michael Haley, Allan Mindel, and Denise Shaw) should have demanded the script be finished properly before they released the film. This is an enthralling film transformed into a mediocre one because of this truncation. I suspect the cause is the editing because there were other parts, like her abused childhood, that are hinted at somewhat obliquely and where you are keep waiting for more explanations or flashbacks that never materialize. I think they exist on some cutting room floor. The movie feels more like a great work in progress than a completed film. Perhaps not on the level of Mahler's tenth, but at least something special that I wish had been fully developed.

The acting by Masterson and Slater is marvelous. She delivers a compelling and complex performance. Slater gives a genuinely tender and touching one. In one of many good scenes he takes her to listen to children's stories at the library not because he has kids but because the storyteller is so good. The chemistry between them where he loves her, but she is scared to love him is quite believable. Pamela Segall takes the minor role as the friend and makes it special. I liked the makeup where they had Kim look much prettier than Lisa making the audience wonder whether Lewis would fall for Kim at some point in the show, and if so when.

The sets (Stephen McCabe), especially of Lewis's parents at their large Normal Rockwell style house at Christmas, give a warm and peaceful ambiance. The cinematography (Adam Kimmel), particularly in the use of lights and shadows, cast a melancholic overlay on top of an outwardly happy show thus mirroring the trouble in Lisa's inner self.

BED OF ROSES runs way too short at just 1:27. It is rated PG for a couple of bad words. This romance would not offend anyone of any age. There is no sex, nudity, or violence of any kind. There are a few quite effective but simple kisses. Nevertheless, this is one very romantic movie. Okay, two thirds of a romantic movie. The movie is strong enough that even though they amputated it, I still recommend it, but I am unable to give it more than ** 1/2 because of this travesty.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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